Greg Wright: It’s a cheque mate and there’s no reason not to accept it

Many consumers value their cheque books Photo: PA Wire
Many consumers value their cheque books Photo: PA Wire
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This is a true story, but I wish it wasn’t.

One of my elderly relatives had a conversation which, to my mind, highlights the arrogance of people who think they can tell us how to run our financial affairs.

My relative endured a terse and unproductive telephone call with an official which left her feeling angry and belittled.

The relative in question is a model citizen who never misses an appointment or a payment.

And what was the cause of the dispute? She had the temerity to try to insist that she paid with a cheque.

She doggedly stood up for her right to decide how she made a payment, but the official said the transaction must be done online.

I know many people believe that cheque books belong to the age of Gladstone bags and wind-up telephones. But who decided to slowly kill off the cheque? British consumers have never been asked for their views.

Back in 2011, the now defunct Payments Council announced that cheques would continue for as long as customers needed them.

A previously announced target for closing the cheque clearing system by 2018 was cancelled after a public outcry.

Many readers of The Yorkshire Post proudly hang on to their cheque books because they don’t want to be dictated to by the big banks and the powers-that-be.

True, cheque book use is nowhere near as common as it used to be. But let’s consider the type of person who still uses cheques.

Many of them, like my relative, are mature individuals who use cheques because they like a neat, orderly paper trail.

In most cases, this love of order reflects the general state of their financial affairs.

In a world where products can be paid for by wafting a credit card or tapping on a digital device, shouldn’t we be supporting those who believe that payment should only be made after a period of calm reflection?

And what right does any society have to browbeat people who refuse to conform?

Surely the most important factor is that the person sending the cheque is capable of paying.

I can assure you, dear readers, that my relative is able to do that.

The mature person who uses cheques is just the sort of customer any business needs; prudent, thoughtful and reliable.

The cheque isn’t just popular with older consumers.

Many small firms in rural areas believe that any attempt to scrap cheques would place them at a disadvantage.

Perhaps a resistance movement will grow to save the cheque book? People still like to give a cheque as a Christmas or birthday present.

How can small businesses and tradespeople operate on the road if they haven’t got chip and pin machines?

It reminds me of the near demise of vinyl records. Vinyl vanished from most shops in the early 1990s because many retailers and recording companies believed it was past its sell-by date.

To devotees of LPs, and their glorious album covers, it was an act of cultural vandalism. Nobody, of course, asked the customers if they wanted to make vinyl history. But you cannot keep a good brand down and a new generation has taken the LP to its heart.

The revival of the LP is a classic example of consumers standing up for themselves and refusing to be told how to enjoy their music.

Almost 640,000 LPs were bought between January and March this year, according to the British Phonographic Industry, a 60 per cent increase on the same quarter a year earlier. Sound Leisure, a manufacturer in Leeds, has drafted in a team of OAPs to help create a new generation of vinyl jukeboxes.

It’s just possible that the humble cheque will mount just as spirited a comeback. It has, after all, been around since Roman times. We ought to celebrate and support those who believe cheques are a sensible and timeless way of making payments